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Cathy Jordan

Cathy Jordan, Ph.D., serves as the Associate Director for Leadership & Education at the Institute on the Environment. Cathy leads an IonE team that cultivates sustainability awareness in students and supports sustainability-savvy leaders with soft skills that make them more effective change agents.

As a pediatric neuropsychologist, Cathy has had a long-standing interest in the influence of environments on children’s health and development. Early in her career she focused on the influence of environmental risks, such as lead overburden, on children’s cognitive and behavioral development. She later turned her attention to the positive impact of nature contact – through nature play, nature-based learning, and therapeutic uses of nature – on children’s physical and mental health and educational outcomes and development of a stewardship ethic. Cathy believes that the establishment of a strong connection to the natural world is critical to development of concern for our land, water, and atmosphere, and it is important to establish that connection in childhood.

Cathy also serves as the consulting Director of Research for the Children & Nature Network, a national nonprofit leading a global movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children – and natural places – can thrive.​ In this role, Cathy leads efforts to make the burgeoning body of research evidence on nature’s benefits accessible to diverse audiences and to network researchers and practitioners across the country in efforts to advance research on nature-based learning and the
translation of that research to formal and nonformal educational practice.

Cathy has worked extensively in efforts to build capacity for participatory partnerships between
academic institutions and communities, and to support the community-engaged scholars that do this
work. Cathy co-developed and co-taught for six years a course on community-based participatory
research for a mixed audience of graduate students and community leaders. She has also developed
several resources for faculty seeking promotion or tenure as community-engaged scholars and for
Promotion & Tenure committee members seeking to enhance their capacity to fairly evaluate
community-engaged scholars for career advancement. She offers several professional development
workshops to faculty, staff, students, and Promotion & Tenure committee members at University of
Minnesota. She offers similar workshops for, and intensive consultation to, other campuses interested in supporting community-engaged scholars in their career advancement. Cathy brings this expertise to IonE’s efforts to support its community of engaged scholars.

Cathy holds a faculty appointment in the University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of
Pediatrics. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Wayne State University, completed a clinical internship at Brown University and post-doctoral training in pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Minnesota. She enjoys singing, weightlifting, nature photography, kayaking with her husband, and supporting her two adult children’s outdoor passions.